Thomas Industrial Network has announced that it will cease publishing print editions of its flagship reference work, the Thomas Register of American Manufacturers, and several regional buyers’ guides, after the 2006 edition.
This is a bold and innovative move, which acknowledges a simple fact – most industrial purchasers have moved their product search processes online. It is also a recognition of the many things that online products can do that print cannot. Shifting products to the Internet has allowed Thomas to do more than just provide listings and traffic to its industrial product supplier customers. It now offers a whole range of services to those clients, including catalogs, CAD drawings, and e-commerce functionality. It has shifted Thomas’ model from a traditional directory model that links buyers and sellers, to one that offers much more in the way of value-add services.
Dropping print is a recognition of where the future lies. It’s also a necessary step in an environment in which new competitors do not have expensive print legacy products to maintain. Too often, information providers cling to their legacy products out of fear of losing or cannibalizing revenue that they’ve come to rely on. It takes a forward-looking company to see where the future lies and pursue it without looking back.